The Phillies activated Jeremy Horst from the paternity list on August 23 and demoted Michael Schwimer to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man-roster. The move seemed relatively harmless. Schwimer had been effective over the last few months, but he hasn’t established firm job security. Further, this mess of a Phillies season has enabled the team to call on various relief arms to see which ones figure to pitch out of the bullpen next season. Sending Schwimer down so that Josh Lindblom can continue to work out kinks, or Phillippe Aumont can face some more major league batters is perfectly fine.
It isn’t the bets decision ever made, given that a few other relievers were far more worthy of a demotion, but we’re talking about August 23, eight days away from the September 1 roster expansion.
Schwimer reportedly didn’t take the demotion well, indicating that a disabled list stint made more sense given his elbow soreness. The team didn’t agree and the righty reliever decided to seek a second opinion from a list of Phillies-sanctioned physicians. Teams can’t demote injured players, but injured is a rather subjective term. Schwimer would continue to earn his major league salary while accruing service time if he stayed with the Phillies on the disabled list.
The situation took a turn for the even stranger on Tuesday when it was learned that he hasn’t yet reported to his Lehigh Valley assignment.
We have to be careful not to make judgments or react in a kneejerk fashion, because there are several unknown variables to this equation. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to understand each side’s motivation. It’s also easy to paint either side as the victim or villain. In any event, the bottom line remains that the Phillies shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to injuries.
If Schwimer is hurt and in need of medical treatment from the major league training staff, any type of service time gaming gets thrown out the window. It wouldn’t look too good if Schwimer misses time due to an injury because the team thought him to be The Boy Who Cried Elbow and didn’t want to pay him the pro-rated portion of a relatively measly $480,000 for eight days.